Friday, July 23, 2010

Roseflower Creek




I thought Roseflower Creek would be like The Lovely Bones. Both are told from the point of view of a young girl who has been murdered, and this book begins with,

The morning I died it rained. Poured down so hard it washed the blood off my face.

But I was wrong – in some ways, this book is even better. The main character is ten-year-old Lori Jean, whose unemployed stepfather drinks and whose mother doesn’t stand up for her until it’s too late. It’s rural Georgia in the 1950s and her family is called poor white trash for a reason.

Although Lori Jean’s idea of a fun time is making mud pies at Roseflower Creek with her best friend Carolee, she’s not self-sacrificing. She works hard trying to win a new bike. And more importantly, what she lacks in possessions she more than makes up for in heart. After her mother marries her stepfather their lives begin to slide slowly downhill, but Lori Jean never gives up hoping, or seeing the good in everyone – not even after she dies, and things get even worse for her surviving family.

The book begins with her death, then backtracks to show the downward spiral that led to it – and how Lori Jean’s na├»ve but good-hearted attempt to help her family contributed to that. Although she can’t interact with anyone after she dies, her insights and hopes continue to the end. That was one of the best parts for me – her distinctive point of view, that of a ten-year-old girl, which provides humor even when things are the most bleak.

The folks at the jail was real nice to Mama. They give her this attorney man to help her. He was a public offender, I think they said.

It took me a few pages to get used to the Huck Finn-esque style, but after that I barely noticed. The book has tragedy – some that you expect and some that you don’t – but its ultimate theme is of forgiveness, and it’s inspirational without being preachy. I enjoyed it.

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